Photographs of Naples, a city filled with history left by countless dynasties from all over Europe

Photographs of Naples
History and Humanity Meet on the Cobblestone Streets

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Capital of the Campania region, gateway to the Amalfi Coast, the Isle of Capri (pronounced CAH-pree!) and the land of mozzarella, Naples is Italy distilled, Italy on steroids, Italy to the nth degree. If you don't like the human race, stay clear of Naples, for it is essentially a village where everyone spends the better part of their lives in the streets, talking, singing, shouting, laughing, crying, praying, hawking, debating and endlessly, eternally discussing Sunday's soccer game. Naples is probably the only city on earth where there is actually a street shrine dedicated to a soccer star! Take a stroll through Spaccanapoli, the city's liveliest and most entertaining neighborhood, where the steep cobblestone streets are lined with thousands of postage-stamp size shops and laundry hangs from every second-story window. At a certain point you'll see a flower-bedecked picture with an eternal flame in front of it: get a closer look and you'll be surprised to see not the image of the Madonna or a favorite saint but a full-color shot of Diego Maradona! Only the Neapolitans would be clever enough to apply such tongue-in-cheek irreverence to their deep-seated religious fervor. And such is life in Naples: an eternal contradiction in terms, an endless battle where the day-to-day adversities of life are defeated by humanity and humor. As we said, don't come here if you like pristine landscapes populated only by faraway sheep. Naples is Human Nature in metropolitan form. And what a show they put on 24 hours a day!

The city sits on one of the world's most gorgeous bays, dominated by Mount Vesuvius, the volcano that destroyed Pompeii

The heart of the city is its 13th-century castle,
surrounded by a moat and protected by five towers

The castle is even more beautiful at night!

The castle was built by Charles I, an Anjou ruler.
In 1442 it passed to the Aragonese under Alfonso I,
whose inauguration is depicted in the castle's triumphal arch

A closer look at the inauguration

Nearby is the church of S. Francesco di Paola,
in Piazza Plebiscito

Across the square is the rear façade of the Royal Palace, where several Kings of Naples are immortalized in niches

Roger II, the Norman King, 1095-1154

Federick II Hohenstaufen, 1194-1250

Charles I Anjou, 1226-1285

Alfonso I of Aragon, 1396-1458

Charles V Hapsburg, 1500-1558

Charles III Bourbon, 1716-1788

Joachim Murat, Marshall of the Napoleonic Empire, 1767-1815

Victor Emanuel II of Savoy, 1820-1878

Many of these kings lived in the Royal Palace,
with its magnificent staircase...

...and royal theatre

Just around the corner is Teatro San Carlo,
one of Italy's most extravagant theatres
where you can attend an opera performance today

Across the street is the Galleria,
Naples' chicest meeting place since 1890

From here we head into the religious part of the city where we see countless ornate churches and monuments such as this one erected to celebrate the end of the plague in 1656

Behind the monument is San Domenico Maggiore,
built by the Dominican Order between 1283 and 1324

It has some of the most stunning stained-glass windows in Naples

It also has priceless frescoes by Pietro Cavallini, dating from 1309

Another monumental church is the one dedicated to St. Paul, built from 1583 to 1603

The Bourbons' church, Santa Chiara, is half hidden in a courtyard

Its hand-painted majolica cloister
is considered one of the city's greatest treasures

Another local treasure is San Gennaro,
a Christian martyr who is the city's patron saint.
Legend has it that after he was decapitated, a pious woman collected some drops of his blood in two ampules. Every year in May, September and December, the "miracle of San Gennaro"
sees this blood liquify. If it doesn't, it's a very bad sign and the whole city is on tenterhooks

The place where you'd feel this most is Spaccanapoli, the populous neighborhood seen in many old Sophia Loren films

Another classically Neapolitan district is San Gregorio Armeno


Perhaps the most spectacular symbol of the city is Castel dell'Ovo, the bastion that was first built in the 12th century and then rebuilt by every king the city ever had


The Neapolitans love their history, but they love their fun too!

No monument is too sacred for them...

...and sunbathing is also a religion

After this family finishes their daughter's holy communion photos, they'll strip to their bathers and jump in the water with everyone else

Viva Napoli!

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